Source: New Zealand Parliament – Hansard
PAUL EAGLE (Labour—Rongotai): Thank you, Mr Chair. It’s a pleasure to talk on this bill, as I did in the first reading of the Election Access Fund Bill. Being a member of the Governance and Administration Committee, I felt a real sense of pride that this had been progressed through the member, and just understanding the history from Mojo Mathers and her hard work. I remember the member saying in her first reading, in introducing the bill, that although Mojo is obviously Deaf, what her real passions were were around animal welfare and water. Sometimes we put the onus on those, say, with the disability to therefore be the vehicle to carry this through. But the member made it very clear that, actually, this was in addition to that, and the legacy that she left to be implemented I felt was both admirable and I am personally proud to actually see this through. So, well done.
We’re at the committee stage now and we’ve heard from the previous speaker that the committee did deliberate at length. We got many submissions. We took a process that was inclusive, and that gets a big tick, because sometimes we just apply the normal standard to the way that we engage and consult, but this bill was done slightly differently. So I just wanted to point out those two important fundamentals, in terms of their legacy of the previous member but also the intent of the Governance and Administration Committee.
Two parts here—look, it’s fairly straightforward, but I want to reinforce the issue around the narrowing of the scope and the deepening of the focus, because we did talk about this at length. Primarily, I think, some of that was around the urgency of getting this through, and I know the member there was very eager to try and get it in sooner than what the deadline is. But it is what it is. We’ve put by-elections in there and we’ve talked at length around local government, and several of us have a local government background. So I think the advice, then, was, “Look, let’s just get this done and let’s add that later. Let’s work on that later.”, and the Minister will be reviewing this and maybe that’s something that could be picked up then and how it ties into the Local Government Act, the Electoral Act, and some other legislation that just nicely sits with this bill. Certainly, there was debate around the parties and NGOs in terms of access. No, they can’t access this—candidates only, and that too was talked about.
I think it was an important conversation to have around the definition, too. Often these terms don’t mean much and sometimes we’re a bit flippant about how they are written or how people are referred to, but I think the inclusive intent of how we were engaging on this came through in terms of getting that definition right, and so I’m certainly supportive of that.
The last bit in that first point is that streamlining of delivery—that criteria. That’s always needed when you have a fund. I know that in previous experience when you had been administering funds from—in fact, any fund—the stronger the criteria the better, because that essentially says what’s eligible and ineligible, and that’s about clarity than anything else.
I guess I should have started with this but the fundamental here is also around removing barriers, so being barrier-free. We live in a democratic society. This is an absolute crucial and vital part in terms of what underpins this bill, so that’s in there too.
The last point is that the select committee did, as I said at length, talk about how we were going to review this, what the role of the Minister in this is, and I talked about local government at length. I think there will be other things like any fund that you set up from scratch. There are certainly things that as you do a work through, you find out, “Hey, let’s do this; let’s tweak that.”, and so that’s an admirable point to add in. Thank you, Mr Chair. I commend this bill to the House.